Programme information

The UNU-MERIT PhD Programme is a four-year programme offered at our institute in Maastricht, leading to a doctoral degree awarded by Maastricht University upon successful defence of the dissertation. The institute currently hosts about 100 PhD candidates, who are an integral part of the UNU-MERIT community. The UNU-MERIT PhD programme provides advanced training in the knowledge and skills relevant to the UNU-MERIT research agenda.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve across the globe, it is not possible to predict what the situation will be in September 2022. For this reason, the 2022-2023 programme is flexible in its delivery. In the best case, by the time the academic year starts we will be able to deliver the programme in person, at our institute in Maastricht. If needed, however, our programme will be delivered either completely online or in a hybrid format.


The first year of the programme (September 2022 – June 2023)
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During the first year, PhD fellows are introduced to the PhD trajectory with a course programme of required and elective courses, taught by leading scholars of UNU-MERIT and our partner universities. These courses are taught in English and spread across two semesters, starting in September. The first semester consists of a programme of compulsory thematic courses, introducing the fellows to the core research areas of the institute.  During the second semester PhD fellows also follow elective methods courses, which permit them to develop the skills necessary to excel in the research area of their interest.

Throughout the first year, PhD fellows are supported in the further development of their PhD research proposal by interacting with staff members and potential supervisors. A Personal Development Plan (PDP) is developed with the supervisors and the PhD director, setting out the research plan and identifying additional training needs for the following years.

After the first year (September 2023 onwards)

The first year is followed by three years of dissertation research and broader professional skill development. PhD fellows are encouraged to participate in seminars and other research activities organised at UNU-MERIT and to present their work in international high-level conferences. As part of their trajectories, PhD fellows contribute to the institute with activities related to their PhD, such as tutoring in the Masters’ programmes at the institute, project-based research or other activities such as providing assistance to conferences and workshops, seminar organisation etc., depending on their longer term career interests, in or outside academia.


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